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This 245 message thread spans 9 pages: < < 245 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 > >     
Google Under Siege - Fair or Unfair?

 8:33 pm on Apr 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

The Gmail outcry is huge. The Local search outcry is growing. The number of negative Google stories out there is a surprise.

It seems Google can't please anyone these days.

What is the root of it all?

a) The Florida update?
b) Big - just plain bigness (everyone loves to pick on the big guy)?
c) Poor management?
d) Public relations dept screw up?
e) Competitors planting seeds of division?
f) All of the above?



 8:50 am on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

we fund 95% of all research and development World-wide

Thank you very much for that (from the rest of the World, i.e. the other 5%)


 2:25 pm on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

"we fund 95% of all research and development World-wide"

You know, I guess I read it in an email somewhere. I'm sure it originated from the USA though. Maybe I should contact the originating ISP?

We're discussing Google on WebmasterWorld.com. Nearly all of us are doing this using a PC running some version of Microsoft Windows on an Intel or AMD processor. All of these are American companies. Why is that?

I'm not trying to say that America or American corporations are inherently good. We all know that's not true. My point is that for a business to try their best to make a profit is not inherently evil.

Google may have fallen out of the good graces of many people. Some of this is a result of their own bad business decisions, though some of it is just inevitable over time. Trying to provide a free service for people who want it and having others pay for it through advertising is not a bad thing, and I certainly wouldn't critisize them for being innovative.


 2:58 pm on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

not just here in America where we fund 95% of all research and development World-wide

This info brought to you by the same bunch who told us about the WMD.

Google's recent make-over looks spammy in my eyes. The Gmail stuff is over the top. We all know they're in business to make money, (nothing wrong with that), but the Pollyanna act about how decent and honourable they are is a bit of a joke.


 3:23 pm on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

we fund 95% of all research and development World-wide

Now what's that saying? - I know - 90% of statistics are just made up.



 5:51 pm on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

This discussion concerning the US vs. the rest of the world is off-topic, but in a way relevant to the thread.

Yes, I run MS Windows, but I also run SuSe (German), my monitor is Japanese, and my home-built PC comprises bits from all over, including Europe and China. But all these companies have one thing in common - no matter what their size, they are competing in a global marketplace, and are subject to global pressures. For example Microsoft has just been fined $500 million (approx) because it offended European law, and many European countries are looking to Linux for their government agencies.

And who owns a US company anyway? It might be registered in New York, but shares are a global commodity.

Google is also at that stage. It can no longer afford just to please its US audience but in order to be "the best SE" has to cater to global perceptions as to what is appropriate search results. China is the big growing market, and there Google is in competition with home-grown SEs like Baidu, not to mention Yahoo's Hong Kong holdings.

One difficulty I see is that while it is relatively straightforward to cater for regional sensibilities by creating .co.uk. or .fr databases, etc., it is difficult to create a specifically US database because .com is global. Therefore it has to please everybody, which is probably impossible.


 8:17 pm on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

imho the root of it all:

Google are (or at least were) good at providing free services while Microsoft (for example) are good at selling products. We're witnessing just how hard it is for an organisation to make the transition from giving away to selling.


 8:51 pm on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> we fund 95% of all research and development World-wide

I am not sure about this but i think its true in the drug research - Most of the new life altering/saving drugs come from american research and american people pay billions for it in way of high price while the rest of the world enjoys a low price by means of government controlled pricing (europe/canada) or govt ok'd patent abuse copycats (asia/africa)...

Ever think what will happen if the american govt decide to be less evil and impose price control? - there will be less incentive for drug companies to develop new drugs and a cure for "cancer/diabetes" or for that matter "hair loss" may never come :)


 8:52 pm on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

...if you want to talk about greed and profit you can go here


If I can put in my two cents, any competing company can do anthing they please to get a bigger share of the market in all fairness as long as they don't revert to illegal means to do so and the same goes vice to the versa for Google to anyone else. Point.

Of course one could go on and on about the legitimacy of backroom deals and antitrust accusations - but as far as I know (and IMHO) there are no laws against the former and those calling themselves the latter are often misplaced or besides the point.

As for monopolies, they are very hard to maintain without resorting to covert means or government 'support'. The bigger you get the bigger the target you become, sure, but don't forget that it costs money to maintain a monopoly because it is so huge and hard to control. Most importantly, companies that build ramparts around themselves tend to stagnate, lose touch with the real market and lose their competitive footing.

Purist 'fair' is a good product getting a good share of the market because of consumer satisfaction. Google gained its popularity because of this for sure.


 12:21 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Wow has this thread degenerated!

Back to Brett's orginal questions.

While Google's current problems may be due to an immature growth spurt, it appears that sellers are being pushed into purchasing positions in order to appear - So my response would be that Google has changed from being the best in its field to being the first with its hand out.

What is really sad is that even teenagers are noticing that you can't get good search results with Google anymore.

It's been a long time since Florida, and yet the problems continue.

I want my OLD Google back!


 12:54 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> we fund 95% of all research and development World-wide
I am not sure about this but i think its true in the drug research - Most of the new life altering/saving drugs come from american research and american people pay billions for it in way of high price while the rest of the world enjoys a low price by means of government controlled pricing (europe/canada) or govt ok'd patent abuse copycats (asia/africa)...

Britain, France, Germany, Japan and, dare I say, Cuba all have highly successful pharmaceutical industries.

One thing that really annoys Europeans about Americans is their belief that they invent everything. Even rewriting history (e.g. U-571) and if rumours are true, Tom Cruise plans to make the Battle of Britain an American victory.

Sorry chaps, but whilst the USA has invented/developed many products over the years, this 95% figure is just pure garbage. I don't care what field you are talking about (except, perhaps, space exploration) the rest of the world is developing it as well.

As for the topic of this thread, Google have lost their way - it happens everywhere. Empires, companies, pop groups, sports teams, nobody stays on top forever. Will Google find their way again? Perhaps yes - but only if they genuinely realise that they are getting things wrong. So far I see no sign of that.



 12:57 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Problem is that Google is preparing to make the big jump from private to public company. When this was originally announced, everyone and their grandmother came out to berate them. Another thing, Google main ideology was to build a pure productive search engine without much commercial interference, well now that the vulture capitalists was to make some bread, they have to turn into a fast cash money producing machine to look good for prospective shareholders and financial institutions. So, they are trying to handle too many things at once, as well as grow up faster than the company is able to. You know what happens then... Well, every mix water and oil together? Its a complete mess, and so is the Google infrastructure. Itís a company build on a deck of cards. Is hallowed up and has not structure. They had fallen back on their initial focus for the green. Its fine to make money, even make a lot of it.. But to go back on what the company was originally founder for, that's just despicable, and that is why Google is going to be another Paypal. Only they won't be in eBay's camp, they will either be in YHOO's or MSFT's.



 1:05 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google is also at that stage. It can no longer afford just to please its US audience but in order to be "the best SE" has to cater to global perceptions as to what is appropriate search results. China is the big growing market, and there Google is in competition with home-grown SEs like Baidu, not to mention Yahoo's Hong Kong holdings.

While I refuse to enter any European-American discussion, primarily because it's totally fruitless for all concerned, I do think this is a good point. Google's market is certainly not U.S. only.

I think a lot of the anti-Google stuff is inevitable when one player achieves total dominance. As a purely self-centered American who only cares about the effect on my wallet, I don't want any one SE to be too dominant (i.e. too important to my wallet). I think most of us all over the world get a little scared when one company has too much of the pie, and will try to tear them down. I am not convinced that anything Google does will be interpreted as "right" in these circumstances.

Google has probably set themselves up for this even more by building an image as a white knight--an image that I believe is unsustainable as they grow.


P.S. That scares me a lot about TrustRank as well. Is it a good idea to put the Google results almost entirely in the hands of only 200 sites? They would wield a scary amount of power. IMHO this is already a problem with DMOZ. Maybe I'm a cynic, but I do believe that power corrupts.


 4:00 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google is just another Silicon Valley company, financed by venture capitalists looking to maximise shareholder value. They were never anything more or less than that. Goodwill, however genuine, is just a means to that end. Commercial pressures will always override.

Google is so dominant over search and context-sensitive advertising that their power is inherently bad. If they have competitors doing a better job, commercial pressures will bring them into line.

Whether you're a publisher or an advertiser, you need a competitive field where noone dominates. I think people should abandon this sense of betrayal and support Google's competition. We debate endlessly about whether Google is good or bad, but saying Google Google Google all day long only reinforces their brand, thus their dominance, thus their ability to screw us.


 4:57 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Saying Google, Google allday long?

We call out their name in the vain hope that theyll hear us and change route.

everyone so cheesed off with them as we all have followed their ruls to the letter only to have the rules changed without warning.

It just sucks.


 5:19 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

It just sucks.

I remember as a kid reading the line, "There's no such thing as gravity - the earth sucks."

A cathartic expression of frustration may be good for the soul. After a while though it is time to give it up.

I still use Google as my primary search. One of my kids uses Yahoo, one uses Ask, and my wife usually uses MSN, simply because it is the default search in her IE browser.

We all complain about equally when we can't find what we are looking for.

Google got too big, and then tried to do too much in too little time. They might have thought they were forced to by market pressures, but it has created the perception that they have lost their focus.

Fair or unfair? Life's not fair. It just is, and the G's current lot just is too.



 6:26 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

No one (I don't think) gets bashed more by google than me.They are always dropping my sites with penalties and bans and yet i have never thought to blame google for a second.
They are aiming to do the best they can and I am too.
A webmaster's job is to get all the traffic he can to a site and I have seen so many successful websites out there that not only do not have search engine traffic but actually ban them with robots text.
You only have to look at alexa to see some of the top traffic sites have no ranks in the serps.
So obviously there are so many more ways to get traffic other than search engines and my take on it is that if we need to rely on search engines for our income then we aren't doing our job as webmasters.

[edited by: cabbie at 6:27 am (utc) on April 19, 2004]


 6:26 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>We're witnessing just how hard it is for an organisation to make the transition from giving away to selling.<<

This is true to an extent but was it really ever Page and Brin's long term plan to work for nothing? No one can blame them for trying to make a few bob but where it all falls down is that their public persona is still that of the Righteous Brothers.

WRT to the USA/Europe issue, I also believe that Europeans have a keener sense of smell when it comes to BS. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing but we do tend to be more cynical. If Google had made a public statement that they were changing their mission statement the current situation would have been more readily acceptable.

This is why this and other threads sometimes degenerate into a Europe/USA p***ing contest. I think we (Europeans) would have accepted the fact that they (Google) were moving into profit generation mode if they had just said so. Barbie and Ken we are not. Just give us the facts and we'll have a look at them.

They still claim that their whole aim in life is to produce the best search results when we all now know that all their main aim is trying to maximise profit. Sure, there are still areas (non-commercial) where Google excels but it is obvious if you search for commercial keywords the results are now hopelessly profit driven.

Meanwhile Yahoo, who are an overtly commercial organisation, grow and grow and post record results.

(Google, if you need an advisor on European attitudes give me a shout :o)


 6:32 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Back in October if Google had started selling shares and I'd had the odd $1000 kicking about I think I might have bought some shares. Six months on I'm not so sure I would now.

The reason why.

Not because they/it have/has become money grubbing and not because of proposed invasion of privacy, I just think that the guys steering the ship at Google seem to have let go of the rudder.

The core product has been messed with in a way that has made many folks lose confidence in it. Google search is serving me personally very well and I'm very grateful for that but I feel different about it and different in this case isn't better. Then they have all too rapidly changed the lovely simple Google I loved. This and all of the other changes make me worry that something far worse than Florida might happen.

It looks like the purchase of Applied Semantics, Inc. was the turning point. Applied Semantics, Inc. has a track record of introducing innovation before the World was ready for it and of practices that have been heavily criticised here at WebmasterWorld in the past. The technology should be basically good its just how it is applied that causes the problem.

I think that Google's aquisition of Applied Semantics is at the root of their current problems. What they had before may not have been perfect but it had a simple clean honesty to it, just like the interface.

I sincerely hope that one of the Google founders gets a firm grip of the rudder and pulls Google back on course for its own sake and for all of our sakes.

Best wishes


[Edit] reason, typo

[edited by: Hissingsid at 8:16 am (utc) on April 19, 2004]


 6:43 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

we fund 95% of all research and development World-wide

I don't know about funding, but as an American I know that we Americans don't have 95% of the intelligence.


 7:12 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>I think that Google's acquisition of Applied Semantics is at the route of their current problems.

Thanks for getting back OT. I suspect they might have tried something similar even if they hadn't bought the "technology".

I understand the purchase, theoretically it seemed like a good idea. But, maybe the formula Google already had was actually better.

Back in mid-November the floor certainly fell out of their quality. Since then someone at the Plex has had the good sense to see it, and they have done an "about-turn" to some extent.

The bottom line is that Google got to be popular because its search algorithm was superior. If Applied Semantics could have done it better we wouldn't have "Google News" today we would have "Applied Semantics News".

The Google management largely ditched their own work, their own formula, and took on that of an that of an acquisition.......they were an acquisition for a reason!

Google Execs should have had more confidence in themselves, they had it almost right, now they need to write off Applied Semantics as wishful thinking and get back to the fundamentals that made them popular.


 9:58 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Not going to happen. They will continue to seek out more ways to bring in more $$$ and screw more of their following, webmasters until it is to late to turn around and check their course. I think it is all uphill for Google now, and no one can stop it. The two founders are now blinded by obscene amounts of $$$, so there is no turning back. Google by Yahoo or MSN is in its near future. At least then, the company will be run better than it is being now.



 10:37 am on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

The acquisition of Applied Semantics may have been an early symptom rather than the cause of their problems.

When a large company runs into trouble, typically if you look back 6-12 months you'll notice that they bought up one or two companies in related fields - usually at inflated prices. Often it seems to be motivated by the sort of "see - must have" mentality of two-year old children rather than sound business practice.



 5:06 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

yeah, google used to be great

its depressing


 5:58 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

There have been a lot of posts claiming that Google is just chasing the money. Googleguy made a clear statement on this back on page 6. It was in the past tense but probably (hopefully?) reflects the current attitude.

It's true that a search engine has to make money or it won't be a viable service after long ... I think the thing that set Google apart was that we tried our utmost to align #1 and #2 from your list, so that improving things for users would also be good for Google as a business.

He was referring to:

1. making money
2. providing a wide variety of search results to satisfy all types of users (i.e., being perceived as the best SE in the business)
3. etc.


Your going to have to get in line. :)


 6:37 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

FWIW I think that GG is a very honourable hard working guy and I'm sure that he takes a real interest in what we say, and feeds this back to the relevant people.

He's one of the oarsmen pulling in time with all of the other hard working and talented people employed by Google Inc. Its the guy who is hold of the tiller who is steering them a bit off course. Hopefully the stinging criticism that has been levelled at Google will hit the mark and we will start to see a balance in emphasis.

Best wishes



 6:40 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

A fun thread with alot of good points made. Lets wrap it up.


 3:52 am on Apr 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

well they still can find info better than any other se


 11:13 am on Apr 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google Under Siege - Fair or Unfair?
So what is the conclusion?
What's the end game?


 11:25 am on Apr 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'll take a stab at it:

Although one's opinion of Google seems to be directly related to one's own rankings, Google has strayed from the Mission Statement that made them popular in the first place.

Gmail, AdSense changes (without notice), drive for greater profits and their war on SEO has provoked the antagonism of webmasters. Although neither side is "innocent," if there is going to be an olive branch extended between Google and professional webmasters, it will have to come from Google first.


 11:47 am on Apr 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think that you may be overstating the weight that Google puts on webmasters opinions. Do they really care what we think? I believe that all they are interested in is what the general public (i.e. their clients) think of them and they are in the best business in the world for being able to measure this.

Unfortunately webmasters cannot afford to discard Google. My stats suggest that they are still really the only game in town when it comes to search engines and in the short term, webmasters cannot really influence this. Google need only get concerned when the mainstream press begin to rattle their cage.

We may suggest that they are "under siege" but I would question whether this is of any real concern to them.


 4:17 pm on Apr 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi BeeDeeDubbleU,

I would have to disagree with one thing. Google is no longer the only game in town. Prior to Austin - my main site had a PR8. I was generating about 4000-5000 hits a day. That site went to PR3. I brought up a new site. It went to PR6.

But - I also submitted sites through the old Inktomi. And into Yahoo. Of course Yahoo dropped the Google results. I also advertise in both AdWords and Overture.

Guess what?

At this point - Yahoo is 48% of my traffic - for free. Google is only 15%. And I have approximately the same traffic now - as before anything changed.

I came to the conclusion - the reason Google is big - is they have fed sites like Yahoo. And AOL. And Netscape. And CNN. And Earthlink. But they lost their largest client - Yahoo. AOL will follow. Alta Vista has already switched over to Yahoo results. More will follow.

Google could honestly flicker out of existance - and after 30 days - nobody would notice. And while I would agree they *were* the only game in town - the winds of change are blowing.

Just my opinion.

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